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Love it or list it.

December 17, 2013


Anne and I have this guilty pleasure. It’s called Love It or List It. It’s one of those stupid shows on HGTV.

A couple (the show is made in Canada) lives in a house that is too small or poorly laid out for the family.

Anne and I usually think that their problems could be solved by spending a couple hours cleaning up some of the mess and getting better organized. But a show about house cleaning wouldn’t be quite as interesting.

A sleazy real estate guy shows them three houses and a designer redesigns their house. Then the couple spends 45 seconds to decide if they will sell their newly designed house or spend $100,000 on a new one. Will they love it, or list it?

One spouse wants to move. The other doesn’t That’s part of the tension of the show. And the woman who is redesigning the house always finds unexpected problems that require her to not redo something she promised. Which makes the spouse who never wanted to stay in the old house get all I-told-you-so.

The other thing Anne and I always laugh about is these unanticipated costs. See, we live in a Chicago house that is 120 years old. We have lived in it for over twenty years. Every time we have work done, it always costs 20-30% more than the initial estimate. And we plan for that. But on this show, it is always a surprise.

“Oh, look. We took out the wall and it needs new electric conduits to bring it up to code.”


We once had a guy go up in our attic for some minor work and we ended up having to replace the entire roof. Not just the shingles. They took off the entire top of our house.

Apparently CPS runs more like Love It or List It than real life.

WBEZ’s Linda Lutton reports.

Back in April—even before the vote to close 50 schools—the district signed a contract with logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions to move all the things out of schools. Price tag: $8.9 million.

GWS worked throughout the summer to inventory and move computers, books, furniture and other supplies from closed schools into so-called Welcoming Schools.

In September, the district quietly doubled the amount of the contract, to $18.9 million. Chicago Public Schools’ closing czar said the reason for the overrun had to do with the volume of stuff movers found in the 43 shuttered buildings they are emptying out.

Now, the agenda for Wednesday’s school board meeting shows the board will vote on another increase, this time to  $30.9 million, more than tripling the amount of the original contract with GWS.

Wow. Not 20-30% more than anticipated. Over three times the anticipated cost.

A CPS document says the hike is necessary to board up, fence, and install security posts around 30 buildings.

They didn’t anticipate that the empty buildings would need boarding up?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2013 10:41 am

    Among other past careers, I’ve done a lot of commercial, airport and telecom development.

    Let me tell you, managing empty space is a problem, and usually very, very expensive.

    A couple of stories.

    1. The University of Arizona, in Tucson, did a major building project in the 1970s, including a new library. The university managers and contractors were frugal as hell, and brought the library in under budget, using the remaining money to go for fancier shelving and some integrated furniture.

    The legislature, loaded with Arizona State advocates (Tempe is closer to the capitol), got ticked off and froze funding for the next phase, buying furniture for the library. No resolution to the dispute for two years. Meanwhile, the library sat vacant. It’s Arizona, remember. It the summer, without air conditioning, the windows in the building started popping out and raining down on unsuspecting students and faculty. So they had to turn on the air conditioning. The air conditioning was designed for a building full of books, and had to work overtime for an empty building. AT double the cost.

    By the time the legislature got its nose back in joint, all the money saved had been wasted, three times over. So much for being frugal in Arizona.

    2. For a large company I will not name, our guy in real estate got a request for “X hundred square feet within 100 feet of a specific street intersection in Chicago.” We found a space that worked, on the second floor of a building right on the corner. Long-term lease

    Heh. They failed to tell us that it was for a telephone switching node. When the switch equipment and computer banks were in, the floor began to sag. The building owner sued us for damage, and the switch failed to work. With new specifications, we found another site and moved the switch, assuaged the building owner enough to avoid great damages — but were stuck paying rent on a space we didn’t use. After three years of outrageous rents, I arranged a broker with a huge incentive to find a tenant. It was nearly impossible to lease, but she found us someone to take the entire rent off our hands.

    I was called to explain to the finance committee the outrageous fee to the agent. I showed the spreadsheet that showed the fee was 10% of the already wasted rents, but our department got the stink-eye for a long time for the screw up.

    Now, you want to add the complication that it’s a school building? And you didn’t anticipate the additional costs of closing a building down?

    The additional money for closing and moving would have kept the schools open, and brought them up to snuff, I’ll bet.

  2. December 17, 2013 10:43 am

    Public building management? Did I tell you the one about when I worked at the U.S. Department of Education, and we got an GSA approved zowie-grosso electronic lock system — and discovered, when the power went out, that the default position was “open all doors?”

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    December 17, 2013 8:57 pm

    Put that money into resources for the schools they closed? Nah. How would that make money for the crony capitalists?

  4. December 18, 2013 4:05 pm

    Fred, we love “L.I.O.L.I.,” too! (That is–my daughter, niece & I. My husband’s like Mikey on the Life Cereal commercial–he “hates EVERYTHING!”). I didn’t expect the brilliant analogy in this post, though. (Plus Ed Darrell’s great comments/insight.) One of your most genius posts yet! This would be hilarious if it all weren’t so tragic.

    BTW, don’t all you viewers just love the snarky way David emphasizes the ST when he says,”Are you going to love it or liST it?” With the smirk.

    Which kinda reminds me of Nekritz and Biss.

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